After more than 50 years, the flagship of Stanier’s rebuilt express passenger 4-6-0s has returned to haul a public train on the main line. No 46100 Royal Scot ran from Crewe to Holyhead and back, a route on which the class were familiar and with nothing too demanding in terms of gradients for a first trip. The load was 11 Mark 1s including the POB and an ex-Pullman, and a diesel for train heating.
On a cold, wet and grey morning the Scot made a gentle start out of Crewe, but she was opened up after Calverley, reached 60 just after Beeston Castle and hit 65 before slowing back to 60 at Waverton seven miles further on. Out of Chester we passed Shotton at 61, reaching 67 twice near Flint and Bagillt and twice more at Prestatyn and Rhyl before slowing before Abergele and Pensarn. We touched 60 once more after Colwyn Bay, before stopping for water in the rain at Llandudno Junction.
Our running after that was more sedate, although we touched 60 after Llanfairfechan. However, once on Anglesey, Royal Scot was opened right up on the falling gradients after Gaerwen, speed rising steadily to 76 until a touch on the brake slowed us before Bodorgan viaduct. Thereafter the rising gradient slowed us only to 55 before Bodorgan, then we raced on across the island reaching 66 at Ty Croes, 69 at Rhosneigr and we were still doing 66 way past Valley until slowing for the drop into Holyhead, which we reached two minutes early.
We reached 21 on the climb out of Holyhead on the return, and 50 alongside the Holy Island Causeway, but then moseyed in the 40s and 50s across Anglesey on a very easy schedule to reach Bangor two minutes early. The running was similar on the next leg, though we had a burst up to 66 between Llanfairfechan and Penmaenmawr.
After the water stop, speed rose to 60 at Llandulas then on up to 68 through Abergele, 67 through Rhyl, and 65 through Prestatyn before some sharp braking, presumably for signals. Then we blasted through Mostyn at 54, Holywell Junction at 63, Bagillt at 66 and Flint at 67 before another sharp slowing. We reached the early 60s again between Sandycroft and Mold Junction before arriving two minutes early into Chester.
The final leg saw us reach Waverton at 53, Tattenhall Road at 61, Beeston Castle at 64, Calveley at 64 and then reach 67 just before Worleston. We were still doing 61 as we entered the outskirts of Crewe and our journey ended six minutes early. Royal Scot ran smoothly and swiftly all day, proving her mettle and giving us great hopes for her future.
© Peter Hewitt's Transport Pictures